Something that can only be expressed as bittersweet sadness overtook me this morning as I walked through Patan Durbar Square. Where were the people? I thought to myself. The colors? The commotion? The sound? It look abandoned, left destitute by the very inhabitants who just the night before had packed nearly every square inch of the disaster withstanding monument. The familiar feeling of post holiday dejection subjugated me and I felt, for the first time since landing in Nepal, a whisper of hollowness.
Tihar, the Festival of Lights and the Newari New Year, had just ended, and with it ended the constant presence of roadside shops selling colorful tika powders that me and my family had used just a day prior to make mandalas on the floor of the kitchen for Ma Puja (the day when you celebrate yourself) and Bhai Tika (the day when you celebrate your brother/siblings). Gone were the unidentified but ekdam mitho cha (very tasty!) fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts along with the huge, woven baskets they inhabited. I didn’t smell the lingering scent of traditional Newari food or feel the inertia-like energy that had adhered itself to the very molecules of oxygen in the air for the past few days. I didn’t hear any mothers in beautiful saris and kurtas articulating in Nepali to their kids to not run too far or the sound of cars and motorcycles honking at one another in seemingly never ending traffic.
And then it hit me and I felt the onset of a smile slowly creeping its way onto my face, my countenance shifting from that of confusion to that of understanding. The only reason the square was so barren was because everyone was at home with their families. Tihar was concluded and with it the holiday hysterics and stress that typically accompany celebrations of Tihar’s caliber. And today was the undivided time to truly devote to one’s family.